Kevin Bass at the CFDA Awards


Sustainability Centerstage at New York Fashion Week

Sustainability has been one of the hottest topics in fashion, with a lot of people wondering what's truly being done to reduce the impacts of the fashion industry. The industry is working hard to make the upcoming Fall/Winter 2022 New York Fashion Week shows the most sustainable to date. LIM students had the opportunity to talk to Kevin Bass, an Education + Engagement Programs Specialist at Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Kevin shared his experience working in the industry, discussed sustainable initiatives at NYFW, and had a lot of amazing advice to share with the upcoming generation of fashion leaders.

Many are curious to know how designers plan going to change the way they produce their shows to fit a more sustainable agenda. Kevin shared that brands are working towards centralization, venue sharing, reducing transportation, and even hosting digital shows to decrease impacts. There are many other small changes brands are making to watch their waste production, like sending digital invitations for one. All of these mini-steps add up to something much bigger, and if the industry continues in this direction the future of fashion looks a lot greener.

For sustainability to become an important part of people's lives, it has to be accessible. There’s a false narrative in some parts of the industry that sustainability has to be expensive, which has made brands more likely to “greenwash.” Education in this area is key, consumers have to be aware of sustainability and what to look for in a company they look to buy products from.

Awareness is partially aided by celebrities and the brands they choose to represent. Huge stars like Tiffany Hadish and Joaquin Phoenix famously re-wore red carpet outfits in protest of the industry's luxurious yet wasteful ways. It is extremely important for celebrities and other influencers to adopt sustainable practices and represent sustainable brands. With their platform, they can reach millions of people who may not care about topline luxury, but obviously still buy clothes and contribute to the industry.

Members of the CFDA have been working on initiatives to make the fashion industry not only sustainable, but inclusive. Minorities have lacked representation across all industries, and Kevin believes that the key to diversity is beyond just inclusivity, but also equitability and fairness. While race has rightly been an important topic in the fashion world the last couple of years, we can’t stop there. The fashion industry still has a lot of work to do in areas like sizing and disability representation. The more conversations we have, the more change we will see.

We were thrilled to hear Kevin share what some of his favorite sustainable brands are: Genusee, Telfar, Threadhouse, and Bode. Brands like these are just the start we need. The biggest shifts in the fashion industry lie in Gen Z’s hands, we are the change we want to see.